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Charles Duncan McIver 

Born September 27, 1860 
Died September 17, 1906 



Professor of English in The North Carolina 

State Normal and Industrial 


From the Author's sketch appearing in the 
Biographical History of North Carolina. 
Reprinted here, with changes, through the 
courtesy of the publisher, Mr. Charles Z,. 
Van Noppen 

Write me as one that loves his Jellotv-men" 

"Happy he 
Who to his rest is borne, 
In sure and certain hope, 
Before the hand of age 
Hath chilled his faculties, 
Or sorrow reached him in his heart of hoarts! 
Most happy if he leave in his good name 
A light for those who follow him, 
And in his works a living seed 
Of good, prolific still." 

"The most important civil institution in the State is a public 
school. No man can really believe in a republican form of government 
who does not base his political philosophy upon the intelligence and 
right training of all the people. * * * The chief factors of any 
civilization are its homes and its primary schools. Homes and primary 
schools are made by women rather than by men. No State which 
will once educate its mothers need have any fear about future 
illiteracy." * * * 

"Sometimes we think it is a pity that a good man who has learned 
to be of service to his fellows should be called out of the world. So 
sometimes we may think about an enterprising and useful generation; 
but, after all, the generations of men are but relays in civilization's 
march on its journey from savagery to the millennium. Each genera- 
tion owes it to the past and to the future that no previous worthy 
attainment or achievement, whether of thought or deed or vision, shall 
be lost. It is also under the highest obligation to make at least as 
much progress on the march as has been made by any generation that 
has gone before." 



At times more or less critical in the history of our 
State, it has now and then fallen to our lot to pause 
in the toilsome journey of progress while we awaited 
the coming of a master spirit who should guide us 
safely and surely in the direction of some wished for 
goal. Nor have we at such times long waited in vain, 
for, North Carolina, whatever else she may have lacked, 
has not been wanting in men able and willing to dedi- 
cate themselves to the service of that State whose 
glories are her sacrifices and whose spirit finds truth- 
ful expression in her motto, "To be rather than to 
seem. ' ' Thus, whether the call came in war or peace, 
it mattered not. It was sufficient to know that there 
was service to be rendered, and it followed that what 
men could do was done. 

Among those who have thus faithfully and efficiently 
served the Mother State in time of need is to be 
included the name of Charles Duncan Mclver. Born 
September 27, 1860, on a farm near Sanford, in Moore 
County, North Carolina, he early and permanently 
learned some of life's most wholesome lessons. Econ- 
omy, self-denial and bodily toil were his in early youth 
and they continued to abide with him in the years 
that followed. 

The region around what is now the town of Sanford 
was peopled largely by settlers whose ancestors came 



from the Highlands of Scotland. Evander Mclver, 
when eight years old, bade farewell to his rugged 
birthplace, the Isle of Skye, and with his father made 
his new home in the pleasant sand hills of North 
Carolina. In his son, Matthew Henry, the father of 
Charles D. Mclver, were exemplified the many ster- 
ling traits that history shows to be characteristic of 
the Highland Scotch. Among these traits may be 
mentioned earnest piety, devotion to liberty, respect 
for law and order, and love for education. A success- 
ful farmer, a respected elder in the Presbyterian 
Church, a useful and influential citizen, he was an 
admirable type of that class upon which in greatest 
measure rests the stability of state and society. A 
similar description applies to the maternal ancestors 
of Charles D. Mclver, who were of Scotch and English 
descent. To his mother, whose maiden name was 
Harrington, and who on her maternal side is descended 
from the McNeills of Scotland, the son ascribed the 
formative and directive influences of his early years. 
No small measure of the fruit of his useful life was 
of seed of her careful sowing. Leal and true — these 
Scotch and English ancestors. Decided in their convic- 
tions on questions of church and state, yet tolerant 
and charitable ; patriotically responding to the call of 
the South in her hour of need, and bravely giving 
themselves to the rebuilding of waste places in the 
dark years that followed; fearers of God, and sup- 
porters of schools and churches : — it is worth something 
to be born in a community of which such men are 
citizens and to reckon them among one's neighbors 
and personal friends. 



Amid the thrifty and orderly influences of this 
Christian home and community, in attendance upon 
the excellent private schools of the neighborhood, and 
in the daily performance of all the various labors 
that fall to the lot of the healthy farmer boy, the 
subject of this sketch spent the first seventeen years 
of his life. Here were laid the foundations of that 
vigorous health which enabled him to stand so well the 
mental and physical strain of later years, and here 
were implanted that love for man and nature, and that 
intelligent and sympathetic appreciation of the needs 
of our rural commonwealth, which proved valuable 
forces in fitting him to become our most successful 
leader in the great cause of universal education. 

The fall of 1877 found our farmer lad enrolled 
as a student of the University of North Carolina. 
Mindful of the fact that there were other and younger 
members of his family to be educated, and preferring 
to meet his own expenses, he secured the necessary 
funds through personal notes given to a near kinsman 
and by his vacation earnings on the farm. Here he 
spent four profitable years, graduating in 1881 with 
the degree of Bachelor of Arts. In scholarship he 
took high rank, leading his class in Greek and French, 
and sharing with three others the honors in Latin. 
He entered heartily into the new and wider life, 
studied men as well as books, and soon became a leader 
among his fellows. Among the students in attendance 
upon the University at this period were some whose 
later records are not unfamiliar to the people of North 
Carolina, as the names of Aycock, Alderman, Dough- 



ton, Gattis, Murphy, Strange and Joyner will indicate. 

The traits of character and disposition which he 
manifested as a college student were those so eminently 
characteristic of him in later life. His college friends 
and classmates bear testimony to his sympathy and 
kindliness, to his freedom from jealousy and hindering 
prejudices, to his spirit of good cheer and helpful 
comradeship, and to his abundant energy and enthusi- 
asm. This genius of friendliness and the ability to 
inspire others with faith and hope and determination, 
was a source of unfailing strength from which his 
friends and associates ever drew liberally. During 
his later years members of his faculty and others asso- 
ciated with him in educational work leaned hard upon 
him, and hundreds of despondent students derived 
from him the courage and persistency which enabled 
them to overcome seemingly insuperable obstacles. 
"His spirit of faith and hope and cheer," writes his 
lifelong friend, Josephus Daniels, "will be missed in 
an hundred ways, and it was the thing that made him 
easily the most useful man in North Carolina and the 
best loved private citizen." 

The ties here formed lasted through life. His love 
for Alma Mater was beautiful to behold. She has 
enrolled no more loyal son. In the busy later years 
he permitted no engagement to be made that would 
prevent his attendance upon the annual commence- 
ment exercises, and, with one unavoidable exception, 
he was present at every commencement during the 
twenty-five years that followed his graduation. He 
often spoke of the debt of gratitude he owed to his 


instructors, saying of one yet living, "No man can 
come under his influence without being imbued to 
some extent with State pride and tolerance and a 
longing to be of some service to so good a State and 
so great a people." And again, in referring to this 
period of his life, he is quoted as saying: "Another 
man to whom I am greatly indebted is my professor 
of Latin, whose stimulating genius inculcates in all 
the youth he touches self-reliance and the audacity 
to undertake large tasks." State pride, a longing 
to be of some service, the audacity to undertake large 
tasks, — how well young Mclver learned these lessons! 
Undecided as yet upon his life work, he turned to 
the profession of teaching, and in the fall of 1881 
became assistant in a private school in Durham, 
North Carolina. His ability won quick recognition, 
and in the spring of the same scholastic year he was 
made principal of the school. In May, 1882, he cast 
his first vote, this being in favor of a local tax for 
the support of the Durham public school system. The 
fact is worthy of record in that as a private school 
man he voted for a measure which, though for the 
public good, seemed decidedly against his own personal 
interests. He assisted in the establishment of the 
Durham Graded Schools, and, after serving them as 
principal for one and one-half years, resigned to accept 
a similar position and to perform a similar work in 
the schools of Winston. Associated with him in the 
organization of these latter schools was Dr. Calvin H. 
Wiley, at that time chairman of the board of education. 
It cannot be doubted that from this famous school man 



the young teacher learned much that served to quicken 
his interest in the educational life of his State. Here, 
too, in the person of one of his assistants, he was 
destined to find a co-worker who thenceforth became 
the inspiration and benediction of his life. At 
Winston he remained from February, 1884, until Sep- 
tember, 1886, at which time he accepted a call to 
Peace Institute, Raleigh, North Carolina, where, as 
principal of the literary department, he remained until 
June, 1889. 

In the meantime he had fully decided upon his life- 
work, and rejecting attractive offers of partnerships 
in business and law, strove to make himself master of 
his chosen profession — teaching. He put himself in 
touch with the quickening forces of the time, and 
sought to add to the strength of the old, the inspira- 
tion of the new era. Visits of inspection were made 
to schools of promise, and conferences sought with 
able educational leaders. The ideas thus obtained were 
accepted, modified or rejected, as the actual work of 
the schoolroom proved them valuable and practical 
or the reverse. He early associated himself with the 
North Carolina Teachers' Assembly as one of its active 
members and supporters. The vacation periods of 
every year were devoted to work in county institutes 
and in State summer schools. In addition to his 
labors as teacher and lecturer, he served as principal 
of the State Summer Normal School at Sparta. While 
thus availing himself of the means at hand to promote 
the interests of public education, he was quick to 
realize the inadequacy of the work as then conducted. 



"The majority of teachers," he reports in 1887, "cannot 
go a great distance to attend normal schools. Small salaries 
and short school terms render it in many cases impossible. 
Efficient county institutes should be brought within the reach 
of every teacher in the State. ' ' * 

Here we have presented in few words the lines of 
future educational reform. Institutes within the reach 
of every teacher — will he do aught to accomplish 
this? Larger salaries for teachers, a longer school 
term, with the increased appropriations which these 
imply and the higher professional equipment and bet- 
ter service which they in turn demand — will he do 
more than call the attention of the State Superin- 
tendent to these needs? But we must not anticipate. 

To the urgent need of better qualified teachers 
those interested in education now began to give earnest 
attention. Through the agency of the Teachers' 
Assembly, petitions for tne establishment of a normal 
training school were several times presented to the 
Legislature — but without effect. Feeling that more 
active steps should be taken, Charles D. Mclver, in 
1889, made a stirring speech before his fellow educa- 
tors at their annual meeting, which resulted in the 
appointment of a committee, of which he was made 
chairman, to appear before the Legislature at its next 
session and personally present and urge the adoption 
of a bill for the establishment of a training school 
for teachers. 

On a day agreed upon the members of the committee 
appeared before the General Assembly, presented the 

* Biennial report of State Superintendent of Public Instruction 
1887-'88, page 40. 



bill and advocated its passage. The chairman, being 
at the time a resident of Raleigh, was in a position 
to labor continuously in behalf of this measure of 
which henceforth he was the recognized champion. 
He met with little encouragement and with much 
opposition, but so convincingly did he press home his 
arguments in personal conferences with members of 
the Legislature, that, to the surprise of all, the bill 
passed the Senate by a large majority and failed in 
the House by only a few votes. 

Although the General Assembly did not at this 
time provide for the establishment of a State Normal 
College, it wisely transferred the appropriation 
hitherto devoted to the eight Summer Normal Schools 
to the maintenance of a system of county institutes. 
Thus provision was made for carrying into effect 
the recommendation urged by our Sparta normal 
school superintendent of bringing institutes within 
reach of every teacher in the State. Charles D. Mclver 
and Edwin A. Alderman, then superintendent of the 
Goldsboro Schools, were induced to take charge of 
this work, and were therefore appointed State Insti- 
tute Conductors. 

Now began one of the most important campaigns 
ever conducted in the State, and perhaps one of the 
most interesting in the history of public education. 
For three years, from September, 1889, to September, 
1892, winter and summer, these men preached a 
crusade in behalf of universal education. In every 
county and in every important city and town in the 
State, by lectures, by teaching, by public addresses, 



by conferences with teachers and school committeemen, 
by talks with farmers, editors, county officials and 
politicians — by every approved method, in short, 
known to advocate and reformer — the work was 
diligently and vigorously prosecuted. The good 
results of their labors are with us today, and will 
continue to bless the Commonwealth when we, our 
children, and our children's children have finished 
life's appointed lessons and put the books away. 

' ' My work, ' ' declares the man whose career we are follow- 
ing, "is conducted with a view to stimulating and encourag- 
ing the teachers, and to making friends to the cause of 
public education among the people. * * 

"My institutes last five days. The first four days are 
devoted mainly to the professional work of the teacher. 
Lectures are delivered on the different branches taught in 
the public schools; on school organization, discipline, methods 
of teaching, and methods of studying; on school law, and 
on the proper use of the books on the State list. Friday, 
the fifth day, is, in a special sense, 'People's Day.' The 
school committeemen and people generally are urged to 
attend, and the exercises are arranged with a view to 
interesting and instructing them in the work of public 
education. Besides various other exercises, a special address 
is made on that day, showing the necessity for education 
by taxation, and answering objections to it commonly heard 
among the people."* 

Amid the arduous duties of his campaign work the 
necessity of a training school for teachers was not 
forgotten. In truth, this may be reckoned one of the 
means on which more and more he came to rely as 

* Renorts of Conductors of County Institutes in North Carolina, 
1889-1890, page 15. 



promising most surely to secure the great end he had 
in view — universal education. Another problem now 
presented itself, namely, where should volunteers for 
this needful service be found in largest numbers, who, 
when trained, would make the best and most sympa- 
thetic instructors of the State 's children ? Wider and 
more varied experience and a deeper insight into the 
real sources of the mental and moral progress of the 
human race convinced him that his syllogism — which 
before had been : Education a State necessity, the 
teacher the chief means of education ; therefore, the 
teacher a primary object of State concern, — might be 
carried logically further and made to read : Univer- 
sal education a necessity, woman the universal educa- 
tor; therefore, the education of woman the founda- 
tion of human progress. 

This advocacy of the more liberal education of 
woman is shown not only in his public addresses of 
that period, but in his written reports and recommen- 
dations to the State Superintendent of Public Instruc- 
tion. His report of June 30, 1890, contains this sig- 
nificant utterance relating to the establishment of a 
State Normal College : 

"To those who are still skeptical as to the wisdom of the 
training school movement, I would add one more reason 
why the school should be established and be liberally sup- 
ported by the State. Under our present system of higher 
and collegiate education, a white girl, unless her father 
is comparatively wealthy, cannot, as a rule, get the scholar- 
ship necessary to make her a first-rate teacher. Her brother 
can get it at the University and Colleges of the State, 
because in those institutions about three-fourths of his 



tuition is paid by the State and the churches. Up to the 
present time the State and our leading churches have 
adopted the suicidal policy of refusing to help educate 
white girls, except in the public schools. * * * 
The girls who would, if prepared, make the best teachers 
for the State 's children, cannot even get the scholarship 
necessary to become teachers. One of the results of this is 
that two-thirds of our public school teachers are men, 
whereas two-thirds, at least, ought to be women. The State 
appropriates nothing for the training of white women, 
except the $4,000 for the institutes. It appropriates $8,000 
to the training of colored teachers and uses it in helping 
both sexes. In this way the State appropriates as much 
to train one negro woman as it does to train four white 
women, for there are about twice as many white as negro 
women in the State. By the help of the State, the churches 
and the philanthropists, a fair opportunity of getting an 
education is given to every white boy, negro boy and 
negro girl in North Carolina. Neither of the three has to 
pay more than one-fifth of the expenses of tuition; but the 
white girl must pay for every cent of hers. If the train- 
ing school shall be established for white girls, it will make 
education possible to thousands of girls who, under present 
conditions, must grow up in a state of ignorance and 
dependence worse than almost any other form of slavery. 
In addition, North Carolina will secure teachers better than 
she has ever had and who will bless her because she has 
blessed them." * 

His report thus emphasizes the justice and the wis- 
dom of State provision for the higher education of 
white women. An objection urged against the former 
bill for the establishment of a teachers' training school 
was its co-educational feature. In 1891 Mr. Mclver 

* Reports of Conductors of County Institutes in North Carolina, 
1889-1890, pages 20-21. 



and his friend and associate, Mr. Alderman, were 
again before the Legislature with a bill for the estab- 
lishment of the much-needed institution, but this time 
with the co-educational feature omitted. The bill 
passed almost without opposition, and thus, more than 
one hundred years after the University was chartered, 
the State established its College for women. Of this 
College the Board of Directors, consisting of one mem- 
ber from each Congressional district, elected Charles 
Duncan Mclver President. 

Now it was that this people 's servant sought to build 
a people's college, not a thing of brick and stone, 
but an institution both worthy of and representative 
of the State that gave it birth. It should be an open 
door of opportunity to every worthy white girl, how- 
ever poor, however rich, within the borders of the 
Commonwealth — a means of fitting her for good and 
useful citizenship. A woman's college for North Caro- 
lina women it should be, characterized by sound learn- 
ing, liberal culture, earnest living and high thinking, 
but not by narrow specialization on the one hand, nor 
by a profitless striving for showy accomplishments 
on the other. The best that a State could give should 
be theirs; the best that educated women could give 
should be the State's. In this spirit was the North 
Carolina State Normal and Industrial College con- 
ceived, and in this spirit the Institution lived, grew and 
labored, presided over, inspired, guided and led, by 
one who freely gave to it all that man may give. 

It is doubtful if any other public institution was 
ever in so true a sense the product of the unselfish 



love and labor of one man. As to him in largest 
measure were owing its conception and creation, so to 
him were due its internal and external workings, the 
policy which characterized it, and the success which it 
achieved. And this was true not merely in the 
larger matters pertaining to its general management, 
but in all the details relating to its work and adminis- 
tration. The College plant and its equipment, the 
departments of instruction, the courses of study, the 
various organizations, the ideas for which the Institu- 
tion stood, the spirit it exemplified, the work it sought 
to accomplish, it's relation to the public and the rela- 
tion of the public to the College — all these, in a very 
true sense, found in him their source and sustenance, 
and this, not in a spirit of formal oversight and official 
dictation, but through the living spirit of creative 
work -and fellow service. 

And to what extent were his ideas realized 
and what fruit did his labors bear? Let him 
answer who can estimate the value to State and Nation 
of 3,000 women, who, in the short space of fourteen 
years, availed themselves of the advantages thus 
provided, and, with increased power of usefulness and 
enlightened zeal for service, passed on teaching 
lessons of right thinking and right living to more 
than 200,000 North Carolina children. Let him con- 
sider that the students came from every county in 
the State, that they represented every respectable 
calling, profession and industry and every form of 
honest labor in which the people of North Carolina 
were engaged ; that during the later years of his presi- 



dency there was not a county in the State in which 
representatives of the College were not to be found 
actively engaged in public service; and finally, that 
two-thirds of all the students enrolled and more than 
nine-tenths of all who graduated became teachers in 
North Carolina. A veritable fulfilling of his prophecy 
this — education made possible to thousands, and the 
State blessed in her teachers because she blessed them! 
The hand and heart and brain of Dr. Mclver were 
felt throughout the Institution, but most, perhaps, 
in what may be called the spirit of the College. In 
its life pulsed the vigor and strength, the patriotism 
and helpfulness of the man ; about it lingered the sun- 
shine of his optimism, and, infusing it all, were the 
dignity of serious purpose and the wholesome spirit 
of a true democracy. His conception of what the 
atmosphere of a college should be he has given us in 
his biennial report of 1902. 

"The State," he writes, "is always the gainer when its 
teachers can be trained in an atmosphere of equality which 
recognizes the worth of honest toil and faithful service 
regardless of class distinctions of all kinds. The distinguish- 
ing characteristic of Americanism is its theory, and I am 
glad to say its usual practice, of giving to every man, woman 
and child a fair chance in life. No board of directors and 
no faculty or college president can force this spirit. They 
can only adopt systems and policies that will tend to its 

"The worth of a strong college to a student is not, as 
some suppose, the mere fact that it gives the opportunity 
to a student to perform systematic literary tasks assigned 
by teachers, or that it gives opportunity to work in labora- 
tories and libraries. These are necessary and important, 



but the student's greatest advantage at college is the 
spiritual and mental atmosphere of the place. It is 
intangible, but you can feel it. It can not be measured, 
but its effect is everywhere manifest. 

"The love of truth for truth's sake; the belief in equality 
before the law; the belief in fair play and the willingness 
to applaud an honest victor in every contest, whether 
on the athletic field or in the class room or in social life; 
the feeling of common responsibility; the habit of tolerance 
towards those with whom one does not entirely agree; the 
giving up of small rights for the sake of greater rights 
that are essential; the recognition of authority and the 
dignified voluntary submission to it even when the reason 
for the policy adopted by the authority is not apparent; the 
spirit of overlooking the blunders of others and of helping 
those who are weak; the contempt for idlers and shirkers; 
the love of one's fellow-workers even though they be one's 
rivals; patience in toil; self-reliance; faith in human prog- 
ress; confidence in right and belief in God — these are the 
characteristics of the atmosphere of a great and useful col- 
lege. The young man or young woman who by association 
with faculty and fellow-students becomes imbued with these 
principles gains what never can be secured in the same 
degree in the best homes or small schools, or anywhere else 
except in a college."* 

We would willingly dwell at length upon this 
phase of President Mclver's work: — on the intimate 
relations he sustained to the State's College for women, 
and on the influences which through it he exerted 
upon public education. What this virile man accom- 
plished in supplying strength where of old existed 
finishing-school superficiality, how he inculcated ideas 
of service, how he made vital the conception of woman 

* Report of Board of Directors of State Normal and Industrial Col- 
lege, 1902, page 21. 



as a citizen, how he diffused abroad a spirit of whole- 
some democracy — and all this through constructive 
labors, preserving, strengthening and multiplying the 
influences that make for culture and true womanliness 
— this, did space permit, we would willingly empha- 
size. But the merest suggestion must here suffice, 
while to the future biographer is left the fuller chap- 
ters of this inspiring story. 

Important as are these services, they constitute but 
a part of the faithful labors which won for him State 
and National recognition as an educational leader and 
statesman. During his life-time, State appreciation 
may be said to have been summed up in the following 
sentences taken from an editorial appearing January 
24, 1904, in one of our leading North Carolina daily 
newspapers : 

"He has been a leading force in every movement looking 
for progress, educational or otherwise, in North Carolina. 
When the history of this decade is written, the story of 
the public service rendered his State by Charles Duncan 
Mclver will be one of the brightest pages in that splendid 
volume of patriotic achievement. There is not a man in the 
State who has made himself felt so powerfully and so help- 
fully for progress."* 

The national point of view may be taken as indicated 
in an article on Public School Leaders appearing in 
the July, 1905, magazine number of the The Outlook. 
Relative to the topic under consideration, it says : 

"In the Southern States there is no man better entitled 
to be called a champion of the public schools, and of the 

* Raleigh News and Observer, January 24, 1904. 


whole idea of popular education, than Charles Duncan 
Mclver, of North Carolina. * * * He is a man of 
intense earnestness, energy, insight and common sense. For 
the past twelve years his voice has been raised in behalf of 
popular education, not only in every county of his own State, 
but throughout the South and in great national assemblies. 
There is no abler speaker on this subject than Doctor Mclver. 
He has been the soul of the forward movement in his region, 
and he is now chairman of the Campaign Committee inaugu- 
rated by the Southern Education Board for the promotion 
of universal education. ' ' * 

These are but two voices among many hundreds 
which, separately during his life and in unison at the 
time of his death, acknowledged gratefully the debt of 
gratitude due this loyal leader for public service 
well and faithfully performed. The spirit of unselfish- 
ness which animated him, his whole-souled devotion 
to noble endeavors, the efficiency of his labors for the 
uplift of his fellowmen — these and other charac- 
teristics of his life and work were voiced by the num- 
erous editorials and personal tributes appearing in 
our public press at the time of his death. For the 
representative nature of these tributes, the interested 
reader is referred to the Mclver Memorial Volume 
published by order of the Board of Directors of the 
State Normal and Industrial College. The testimony 
varies in accordance with the special information and 
point of view of the several writers, but there is no 
conflict. The final verdict is that found repeated again 
and again in the numerous editorials: He was the 
State's most useful citizen. "Every newspaper in 

* Outlook, Vol. 80, No. 12, pages 737-738. 


North Carolina," says the Richmond Times-Dispatch, 
made his death "the subject of an editorial eulogy and 
they vied with one another in praising his character 
and his work. ' ' 

"No written memorial," writes Professor N. W. Walker, 
of the University of North Carolina, "can quite indicate 
what he had come to stand for in our Southern life and 
thought. No meeting of Southern educators seemed complete 
without, him; no educational program, satisfactory until his 
name appeared on it. Almost every newspaper in the State 
has said that his death was the saddest calamity that could 
have come to North Carolina in the death of any one of its 
citizens, and the statement will not be challenged. There 
are men in North Carolina possessed of higher scholarship 
than he, but there is no one to compare with him in the 
promotion of intellectual advancement and civic righteous- 
ness — no one who seems to have been able to throw himself 
whole-heartedly and sympathetically into the people's cause 
and labor so effectively for their children's welfare and 
happiness." * 

And what of the multitude of messages so patheti- 
cally expressive of personal loss, those which speak 
brokenly of lost counsellor, friend, brother, and 
parent ? — Hush, let us pass on ! There is a grief too 
deep for inspection, and this unveiling of the sorrow- 
ing human heart may not be done even in a memorial 

The wide variety of his public service is indicated 
by the positions of honor and influence held by Doctor 
Mclver in the course of his busy life. In addition 
to the fourteen years of his college Presidency and 

University Magazine for October, 1906, page 4. 


the work already referred to as Conductor of State 
and County Institutes, Superintendent of Summer 
Normal Schools, and Chairman of the Committee that 
secured the establishment of the Normal and Indus- 
trial College, he was a participant in all the important 
work of the North Carolina Teachers' Assembly and 
its President in 1892 ; a worker in the Southern Edu- 
cational Association and its President in 1905, and an 
active member of the National Educational Associa- 
tion, serving at various times as Chairman of its 
Committee on Resolutions, member of its Committee 
on Education and Taxation, President of its Normal 
School Department, and member of its National Coun- 
cil. During the administration of Governor Elias 
Carr he served as proxy to represent the State stock 
in the North Carolina Railroad Company, He was 
one of the organizers of the Southern Education Board, 
the efficient Chairman of its Campaign Committee, and 
a leader in the movement for local taxation for public 
schools throughout North Carolina. To him is owing 
the organization of the Woman's Association for the 
Betterment of Public Schools. He was a member of 
the State Literary and Historical Association and 
Vice-President of the State Library Association. A 
loyal son of his Alma Mater, the University of North 
Carolina, he served it officially as trustee and mem- 
ber of its Executive Committee, and liberally and 
heartily supported every movement for the promotion 
of its welfare. In recognition of his public service 
the University conferred on him the honorary degrees 
of Doctor of Letters and Doctor of Laws. In present- 



ing him for the latter degree, Doctor Charles Alphonso 
Smith, Dean of the graduate department, said : 

"I have the honor to present * * for the degree 
of Doctor of Laws * * Charles Duncan Mclver, Presi- 
dent of the North Carolina State Normal and Industrial 
College for Women. As State Institute Conductor from 1889 
to 1892, he first showed himself peculiarly fitted to be a 
moulder of educational thought. A firm believer in the 
education of all the people, he has devoted his rare powers 
of organization and appeal more especially to the education 
of women. 'No State,' he declares, 'which will educate its 
mothers need have any fear about future illiteracy.' That 
this sentiment has at last found recognition not only in the 
educational creed, but also in the educational policy of North 
Carolina, is due more to Doctor Mclver than to any other 
one man. ' ' * 

To add to this already long list the various local 
organizations, city and county, to which he belonged, 
such, for example, as the Young Men's Business 
Association, the Industrial and Immigration Asso- 
ciation, the Chamber of Commerce, the Guilford 
County Board of School Improvement, and the North 
Carolina Reunion Association — to mention all such 
organizations and to specify the committees on which 
he served would be to convert the latter part of this 
sketch largely into a catalogue of society and com- 
mittee names. Interpreted aright there is a profound 
significance in this long array of social, industrial, 
educational, business, literary and historical associa- 
tions, since it indicates not only a healthful interest 
in national, state and local affairs, but a wide and 

University Record, June, 1904, No. 30, page 20. 


intimate familiarity with the agencies of progress and 
a whole-souled enlistment of his energies in all move- 
ments that promised to promote the public good. 

It was as a public speaker and orator, perhaps, that 
Doctor Mclver was most widely known to the general 
public both in his own State and beyond its borders. 
The demands thus made upon him were frequent and 
at times almost continuous. It was his custom to carry 
with him a pocket calendar on which were noted the 
dates of promised addresses. When a new appoint- 
ment was sought, he consulted his calendar, named the 
nearest unfilled date, and thus, by an unending pro- 
cess, added to what he called his ' ' incidental and vaca- 
tion work." Appointments were often made several 
months in advance and it was not unusual for him 
to have every available date filled for six weeks in 
succession. The acceptance of these invitations was 
determined by the opportunity for service afforded 
by the particular town, city or community from which 
came the call. If any doubt arose, the chances were 
nearly always in favor of the smaller and weaker 
community, and the message was carried to the 
few hundreds that gathered at the cross-roads store 
or country church rather than to the larger number 
who assembled in opera house or city hall. The mes- 
sage, too, had reference to the needs and special con- 
ditions of time and place, and thus constituted a sow- 
ing of good seed in suitable soil, for it is safe to say 
that Charles D. Mclver never addressed an audience 
without having a distinct end in view and that end 
the provoking to good works. There are few places 



in North Carolina where his voice has not been raised 
in behalf of some public measure. Large audiences, 
too, in great cities far removed from his native State, 
greeted this educational leader, and from his lips 
heard the inspiring story of our educational progress. 
Thus he bore our message of hopefulness and good 
will to more than one-half the States in the Union. 

His favorite topics were, of course, those that 
related to education, but as this is among the most 
comprehensive of subjects, his addresses may be said 
to have included a wide range of themes. He was 
not a man to deal in generalities, but with a particular 
purpose in view, selected a timely theme, appropriate 
to a given audience, and sought by a clear and force- 
ful presentation of facts to accomplish a definite 
result. He would, for example, address a body of 
lawmakers on the duty of the State to make liberal 
provision for the education of its citizens — the citizens 
themselves on the advantages of local taxation for 
public schools. Or, the "Teacher as a Citizen" might 
perhaps be the subject of a talk to teachers, and when 
urged to repeat it before a general audience, he would 
respond with an address on "The Citizen as a 
Teacher." Although an interested student of our 
past history, he seldom drew upon its storehouse for 
the material of his public discourses, but preferred 
to live in the present and in it find the chief objects 
of public concern. "With him the past was our herit- 
age, the present our opportunity, and the future, 
a result of the labors of today. To the work at hand 
he therefore addressed himself, and though he some- 



times saw visions, he never dreamed dreams. All 
his speeches, whether intended primarily for men or 
women, and whether addressed to students, teachers, 
civic organizations or to the general public, had this 
one thing in common — they all, without exception, 
emphasized the duty of public and community service. 

While relying chiefly upon the power of the spoken 
word as an agency in conveying his message to man- 
kind, he was not unmindful of the influence of the 
pen. Amid the duties of official life and the numer- 
ous outside calls made upon him, he found time to 
write much that is of more than passing value. His 
newspaper and magazine articles, his educational cam- 
paign documents and official reports, and his speeches, 
revised and prepared for publication, these, if gath- 
ered together, would doubtless comprise several goodly 
volumes, and would constitute a valuable addition to 
the literature relating to educational and civic ideals. 
His writings, like his speeches, are clear and force- 
ful discussions of topics pertaining to education and 
public service. 

The life here sketched would seem to leave little 
opportunity for the enjoyment of the quieter pleasures 
of home, and the leisure and happiness which home 
suggests. But the life here sketched is but the outer 
and visible workings of an inner life which found its 
center in the home and family. In Miss Lula V. Mar- 
tin, of Winston, North Carolina, Charles D. Mclver 
found a life companion whose Christian graces of 
character and powers of intellectual sympathy ren- 
dered her the truest encourager of his efforts and the 
wisest judge and rewarder of his success. 



She it was who first directed his attention to the 
inadequate facilities for woman's education in North 
Carolina and to the total neglect on the part of the 
State to provide for its daughters what it had long 
since wisely provided for its sons. Under her influence, 
at a teachers' institute held in "Winston, in the sum- 
mer of 1885, he made his first public speech in behalf 
of the higher education of women. Together they 
formulated the plan which was to right the wrong 
so long existing; together — for she, too, was engaged 
with him in institute work — they presented that plan 
to the people of North Carolina; and together they 
labored for the accomplishment of their ideal now so 
happily embodied in the State Normal and Industrial 

The marriage of these educational co-workers took 
place in 1885. Four children, a son and three daugh- 
ters, added happiness to their union. A simple home 
was his, blessed by generous affection and pervaded 
by an atmosphere of hospitality and genial courtesy — 
a home where culture and quiet refinement were justly 
esteemed and where trust in God and faith in human- 
ity remained unquestioned and sincere. His religious 
faith was that of the Scotch Covenanters, adhered to 
in its simplicity, but lived in the spirit of Christian 
rather than of sect. He amassed no wealth, yet none 
could call him poor, for love and confidence were his 
in fullest measure and he left to his family and to 
the people whom he loved and served a priceless legacy 
of good works, a heritage to all that survive him and 
to thousands yet unborn. 



Twenty-five years have elapsed since, diploma in 
hand, Charles D. Melver passed from college halls 
into the larger school of life. And life itself grew 
richer with his coming, and so remains and will remain 
though he that led us has entered into rest. He 
accomplished much and in the doing of it taught us to 
demand of him and of ourselves and of all men — 
more. This, we suspect, is as he would have it, for 
his message to his fellow man rings clear and true: 
Live more abundantly through more abundant service, 
striving hopefully for the larger things of life. 



Rest, son of Carolina, sweetly rest, 

The boon long self -denied now meetly thine; 

Obedience yield we to the call Divine, 

Our comfort this: — The Master knoweth best. 

He knoweth best, yet sore we feel our need: 

So great the void, we may not smile nor sing, 

But, bowed in grief, our altar-gift we bring 

And mid our tears look mutely up and plead. 

Grant us with him to see where honor lies, 

To build for God and man, and not for self, 

To face the future with untroubled eyes 

Intent on lasting service, not on pelf. 

Thus life lives on its purpose to fulfil 

When weary eyelids close and tired hands grow still.